...but the Nets ain't 1.
Wow. Just...wow. For those of you who turned this game off after the 1st half, you missed one helluva comeback by our Timberwolves (although I can't say I blame you for turning off the set after our squad's 1st half performance). Through the first 24 minutes in Brooklyn our boys didn't have a whole lot of bounces go their way: the Nets shot 60% from the field and 62% from beyond the arc, our backcourt was getting shredded by the Nets guards, and lets just say that we didn't get the benefit of the doubt on more than one call from the officiating crew. But the 2nd half, ohhhhhhhh the 2nd half...Our Wolves showed a level of resiliency that simply did not exist on last year's squad. Powered by a few surprise performances and a whole lot of hustle, the Twolves scratched and clawed their way back into the game and then stole a W away from a Nets team that looked like they just had their Xmas presents stolen right from under the tree.
Today was a good day.
A FEW RANDOM OBSERVATIONS:
- Our backcourt D is pretty terrible w/o Ricky. Now, I know this isn't necessarily 'news', but this was painfully obvious in the 1st half. Deron, Joe Johnson, and Marshon Brooks basically got wherever and whatever they wanted through the first 24 minutes. We are really gonna need Shved to continue to develop rapidly if we want to stay afloat through this first month of the season.
- Pek is getting the max, end of story.
- AK47 is quickly becoming my favorite player while Knuckles & the Unicorn are out. 16-10-6-1-4 is one silly stat line and there is only a handful of other players in the league that can dream of filling up the stat-sheet like that. But his stat line might actually pale in comparison to the leadership he exhibited throughout the game. When the game was all but lost, I saw AK encouraging and guiding teammates in a way that I have never seen on any Twolves squad since maybe KG? This guy is legit and he is going to make everyone on our team better by season's end.
- We may live and die by the 3 until we get Knuckles & the Unicorn back. See 1st half vs. 2nd half of tonight's game.
- Ridnour: D Really bad game by one of our veteran leaders. Luke forced shots, passes, and even missed a FT!?! This definitely wasn't the cool-hand Luke that we saw so often last year. While not his best game, Luke has been around long enough to be able to bounce back and I think he'll benefit from playing the relatively weaker guards of our upcoming opponents (ORL, IND, & a Rose-less CHI).
- Roy: C- Roy showed a whole lot more of what he can bring to the table tonight, but unfortunately I'm a little worried there isn't a lot more where that came from. Guy is still shifty and still has a pretty looking J, but he just lacks the explosiveness to really create his own shot anymore. I think he'll benefit from playing in Adelman's system (pass-heavy, creating shots off the ball) and I think our younger players will benefit from playing with him and learning how to act/perform like a true professional, but he shouldn't be starting on this team.
- Kirilenko: A What a game from AK47. I'm going to go ahead and re-type his stat-line because it feels so good 16-10-6-1-4. How do you think that stat line would have looked if we ran Wes Johnson, Michael Beasley, or Martell Webster out there tonight? Yea, not really even a comparison. The improvement in our team this year is so glaring it is AWESOME. It has been brought up many times before, but addition by subtraction is really the name of the game here. Giving minutes that used to be wasted on players with terrible efficiency ratings to players with adequate to above average efficiency ratings is huge for this team.
- Caged Lion: D I thought he was actually somewhat encouraging at the beginning of the game. He was attacking the rim with aggression and created his own shots on a few occasions. Unfortunately, the Caged Lion made an appearance in the second half and his omission from the crunch time lineup tells you all you need to know about what Adelman thinks of him at this point: he still isn't ready. Here's to hoping he will be one day.
- Pek: A Games like tonight's are why Pek will be paid the maximum this upcoming offseason. He was basically our whole offense in the first half and continued his solid play until the clock showed 0:00. Pek banged down low, he ran the floor, he played pretty solid D on Lopez for the majority of the game, and if it wasn't for a few really questionable calls, I'm sure he could have gone for 30 & 10. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to settle for 21-7-1-2. Did I mention how glad I am that he is on our team and that we don't have to ever go against this man of steel?
- Barea: B The ol' straw that stirs the drink. Thank GOD we had him back for tonight's game. Our offense was pretty stagnant when he wasn't in the game. THIS is the player we signed to that 4yr $19mil contract last year: a sparkplug off the bench who can provide instant offense and run the point when needed. On a somewhat related note, I really hope Barea doesn't get fined for any of the 'flopping' calls tonight, but based on the warning he has already received, I wouldn't be surprised...
- Stiemsma: C The Stiemer had a so-so game tonight. He played 10 minutes due to the fact that the refs for tonight's game were bigger fans of the Nets than the Nets' announcers and he got a little trigger happy with some long jumpers, but he did what he had to do for us to get the W: play respectable D and don't turn the ball over on O when we have to rest the unstoppable beast that is PEK.
- Budinger: B+ This guy is going to be scary-good once we get Ricky and Love back. Tonight, Bud showed us a few aggressive drives and finishes at the rim, I thought he played pretty respectable defense, and when he found his range in the 2nd half he showed us what Wes Johnson was unable to for all of those years: competent wing play and the ability to hit a wide-open 3. I was really excited when we made the trade to acquire him, I was really excited this pre-season when he hit 90% (ish) from deep, and I will continue to be one of the biggest proponents of Air Bud - I really hope we don't have to cut him loose when we sign Pek to the max this offseason...In any event, really solid game by Budinger.
- Shved: B+ I guess it must have been the long locks that had been holding him back? Now I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think tonight's game answered a pretty big question mark for me: Shved can play in the NBA and he can play at a pretty high level. His D against Deron in the 4th was a thing of beauty and one of the main factors that swung the game in our favor. There were so many times tonight that the Nets shot over our guards in the 1st half, I don't think they knew what to do with the 6'6'' Russian when he came into the game. I wonder if Adelman will give him more burn at the 1 after his play tonight? So encouraged by his performance, let's hope he keeps it up.
- DC: A- So, this is what hustle looks like? While he missed a lot of shots in the first half, he more than made up for it in the second. Him ripping Kris Kardashian and converting for 2 was easily one of my top 3 plays of the game. Plus, is it just me, or does he jump AWFUL high for some rebounds? Loved the energy he brought into the game. I know a lot of people will be clamoring for him to start (and I don't disagree w/ ya either), but I love being able to turn to him for instant energy off the bench...Wayne who?
2-1....79 to go #WolvesUnited